Court rejects discrimination claims against NetJets by pilot who is Muslim

By Asia Mayfield | Aug 4, 2018

Judge Kathleen Williams  

MIAMI  – Judge Kathleen Williams granted defendant NetJets Aviation's motion for summary judgment in a discrimination lawsuit filed by former employee Ameer Siddiqui. The court found that Siddiqui failed to adequately support his claims. 

The ruling was issued on July 23 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, with the judge directing the clerk to "close the case." 

Siddiqui is a Muslim whose family is from Pakistan. His wife is also of Pakistani descent. He has over 23 years' experience as a pilot and began working for the defendant, NetJets, in 2006. NetJets is the nation's largest fractional aircraft ownership company, with the largest private jet fleet in the world.

Siddiqui's proficiency at his work was never questioned, according to court documents. The pilot flew private jets from West Palm Beach to various locations for "owners" until his 2013 suspension, according to court documents.

In 2013, NetJets received a complaint about Siddiqui's conduct. He was accused of uttering anti-Semitic comments while in uniform and in front of customers. The complaint also alleged that Siddiqui questioned the legitimacy of the narrative surrounding 9/11.  

NetJets immediately launched an investigation. Multiple pilots and crew members were interviewed and corroborated the original accusation, according to court documents. Siddiqui, crew members claimed, routinely made "offensive" remarks regarding religion and Middle Eastern politics, the complaint states.  

After two rounds of interviews, Siddiqui was placed on paid administrative leave, according to court documents. Eventually, a hearing was held in which Siddiqui denied making any offensive statements, according to the complaint. He was then terminated, the complaint said.  

Siddiqui's suit claims that NetJets discriminated against him because of his race and religion. Plaintiff counters that: "The board concluded that Mr. Siddiqui was not honest during his in-person review board and that he did make anti-Semitic and other offensive and concerning remarks during periods of duty and/or while in uniform and representing NetJets." 

Williams agreed with the plaintiffs. Siddiqui rests his argument on NetJets' decision to place him on administrative leave and his eventual termination. Administrative leave, however, is not a retaliatory action and his termination was based on the results of multiple interviews and a board meeting, according to the ruling. Siddiqui did not demonstrate that he was treated differently than other employees in similar situations, according to the ruling.  

Both the plaintiff and the defendant filed motions for summary judgment. Siddiqui's was rejected while NetJets' was granted.  

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